One of the curriculum that I have used and that we had a lot of fun with was KONOS unit studies. One of the main focus points is character traits, which are always good to integrate into your daily lessons. I was using this when my older son was in 4th or 5th grade. At the time he was the only one doing “school” on a regular basis. I was having a hard time getting our son to agree to any curriculum, but when he heard that he could dissect a cow’s eye he was sold. Of course the curriculum gave me the freedom to jump to what ever lesson I wanted, but we went through the attentiveness lessons with the finale being the dissection.
The amazing thing about KONOS is that it is very hands on, and creative. You can choose which activities you want to do and with very little imagination you can swap the suggested books based on what you have available and still make a great lesson of it all. You can also utilize the library and a good many “around the house” items. The hard thing about it is that you have a LOT of prep work to do. Gathering books and supplies and making sure it is ready when you need it. KONOS has done a good job of putting together a second option called KONOS in a box, where they provide a good portion of the books and supplies you need, but of course you pay more for the convenience.
During our attentiveness lessons, and in particular the Sight/Seeing unit we were able to study the human eye, find out what it would be like (sort of) to be blind, learned about interesting people like Helen Keller and really got a good idea of everything we use our eyes for. Amazingly enough, while we were in the middle of this unit I had to go to the eye doctor and I happen to choose one that was great with kids and had some patience. My son started talking about our lessons, and pointed out the parts of the eye he recognized on the poster in the exam room. The doctor was impressed by what he knew and allowed him an inside peek at my eye – there is nothing like the real thing to really set a kid talking. By the time we left the office that doctor was convinced he had just met with a future optometrist. That was never an option really, but it did give me one of those “ok, this is why we homeschool” moments.
When we were through with that year we had made and crawled through an ear, dissected that cow’s eye, dissected an owl pellet, gotten a very good start on a time-line that covered the wall, made a knights shield, sword, and tunic which was worn to Medieval Times and impressed all the actors, and walked two miles through a store and the post office blind folded, with ear plugs just to get a small taste of what Helen Keller’s life might have been like. There were many more things I can’t recall right off the top of my head but it was a fun year and I hope to do at least one like that with each of the kids. It’s harder now, because it is a lot more work to do that for more than one grade level at a time. It can be done – there are people who have used it for many children all through their homeschooling years.
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